cover image Buzzing


Samuel Sattin, illus. by Rye Hickman. Little, Brown, $24.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-316-62843-3; $12.99 paper ISBN 978-0-316-62841-9

Because of the intrusive thoughts and compulsions—visually rendered as an ever-present swarm of bullying cartoon bees—that characterize his recently diagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder, 12-year-old Isaac, portrayed with brown skin, has been feeling overwhelmed and isolated. So he’s delighted when classmates, impressed by his drawings of dragons and other mythical creatures, invite him to join their Swamps & Sorcery RPG group. Isaac finds that he loves the game and that hanging out with his intersectionally diverse new friends—and developing romantic feelings for white and freckled nonbinary peer Micah—helps reduce the frequency of his symptoms. But Isaac’s mother worries that these new experiences will have a negative effect on his mental health, and Isaac’s older sister Miriam feels ignored because of their mother’s focus on Isaac. Palette shifts between blue/gray tones and full-color sequences respectively depict Isaac’s everyday life managing his OCD alongside moments of joy and calm, such as interactions with his friends and fantastical scenes from the tweens’ RPG. Via Isaac’s nuanced relationships with classmates, family, and himself, collaborators Sattin and Hickman (Bezkamp, for adults) conceive a cleverly rendered interpretation of OCD embedded in a wholesome graphic novel drama. Ages 8–12. Agent: (for both) Dara Hyde, Hill Nadell Literary. (July)